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Brain Structure and Neurons

The living brain is pale pink. "Preserved in formalin, it becomes firm and loses its color," writes Thomas B. Czerner in What Makes You Tick? The Brain in Plain English (2001). In this section we will discuss the brain cells of which the brain is structured. These cells are organized as either a nucleus or as cortex.
white_and_grey_matter-brain

Grey and White matter and Glia cells make up an impartant part of human brain.





















Gray matter, white matter, glial cells:

The preserved brain is largely gray in color, and therefore is referred to as gray matter. Gray matter is packed with billions of neurons. It has the "mushy consistency of cooked oatmeal," writes Czerner. Since there are so many of them, it is tempting to visualize neurons as being tiny in terms of their reach; in reality, some neurons have axons that are very long. When multitudes of axons are grouped together, they appear as white matter. Czerner describes white matter as "a collection of long, insulated axons, outgoing branches of neurons that connect various parts of the brain to each other," owing the white color to "myelin, a glistening, lipid, insulating material wrapped around those long axons."
Antonio R. Damasio provides a succinct description of gray and white matter in Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain (1994). "The gray matter corresponds largely to collections of nerve cell bodies, while the white matter corresponds largely to axons, or nerve fibers, emanating from cell bodies in the gray matter." Neurons are "supported by glial cells," that are "essential for brain activity," writes Damasio. Czerner writes: "Each neuron is surrounded by ten to fifty glial cells, which make up the bulk of the brain. Glial cells serve the neuron in several ways. They provide structural support, insulate longer neural branches with myelin to speed electric signals down their axons, maintain nutrition, aid in waste removal and even lay down the markers that lead the branches of a developing neuron to its proper destination. A study of Albert Einstein's brain showed that he may have had an overabundance of glial cells."

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